Dolphin N2 review of 2023: How Hydrogen research and development is at a pivotal point.

By December 20, 2023 No Comments

This year we have seen an increasing international recognition of how hydrogen can help humans to find solutions to ever increasing GHG emissions.

It is no secret that the human need for international movement of people, goods and services requires an astronomical number of collective vehicles to achieve end goals. However, the human need for these services comes at a price and anthropogenic climate change and its damaging impact is the result.

However, humans are resilient, and they do recognise when the metaphorical chips are down and despite what the media may say, there is an enormous body of work happening at an international level to engineer and create options for a reduction in harmful GHG emissions.

Electrification is widely recognised as one solution for transport emissions. However, it’s not all plain sailing as there still needs to be enough renewable energy generated to make enough of an impact. Furthermore, electrification does not provide a one size fits all solution and this is where alternative fuel sources come into play.

The heavy-duty and off-highway transport sectors have been starting to embrace hydrogen as an alternative to diesel and Dolphin N2 are one of the innovators bringing hydrogen heavy-duty technology to the table. Dolphin N2 like many innovators in the heavy-duty space are seeking ways to use established supply chains by utilising a combustion engine but running it on hydrogen rather than diesel.

The Dolphin N2 ThermoPower technology takes waste heat from the exhaust and puts it back into the engine – via a recuperator – ThermoPower increases the engine’s efficiency by 20%.

Funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator research project – known as RE-ARMED – recognised that the same high efficiency could be achieved when using hydrogen as a combustion fuel.

Dolphin N2 have been sharing their innovations at several key industry events this year and have received positive feedback from academia and industry alike.

March – Future Propulsion Conference.

In March 2023 Dolphin N2 exhibited and presented at the Future Propulsion Conference (FPC) at the National Motorcycle Museum.

FPC welcomes Engineers, Academics and Businesses who all with one agenda, one goal: to be part of the collective responsible for mitigating climate change and decarbonising the transport sector.

The Dolphin N2 ThermoPower Recuperated Split Cycle Engine demonstrator dominated the Britannia Suite and reminded delegates and attendees that heavy-duty is still an important topic to discuss given the decarbonisation challenges the heavy-duty sector face.

The Dolphin N2 stand was never quiet, with constant conversation surrounding the engine. On day 1 the team included CEO Simon Brewster, Technical Director Nick Owen, Chief Engineer Rhys Pickett, Chief Engineer Colin Bennett, Test and Development Engineer James McCartney, Chief Engineer Andrew Rodham and Simulation Engineer Gilbert Sammut.

On day 2 Nick Owen – Technical Director of Dolphin N2 – gave a presentation Combustion (incl Hydrogen). Subject: Clean, efficient off-highway power with a Split Cycle Hydrogen Engine. A video recording of his presentation can be found here: https://youtu.be/KUM3dVTE3sI?si=p06qjA6usoOcdiio

July – Hydrogen Industry Leaders: Building a hydrogen economy.

In July 2023 Dolphin N2 were part of a growing collection of Hydrogen Industry Leaders when they attended and exhibited at the Hydrogen Industry Leaders event.  Hosted by Hydrogen Industry Leaders (HIL) the event was an opportunity to highlight the role hydrogen has in decarbonising systems such as transport, industrial and manufacturing systems, and home energy.

The event sponsored by SGN and SSE was a showcase for some of the incredible work being undertaken in the UK and in the investment being made into hydrogen research and development.

The Dolphin N2 Hydrogen ready Recuperated Spilt Cycle Engine demonstrator dominated the exhibition hall. An industry leader in the development of hydrogen as a viable option to decarbonise the heavy-duty sector and beyond, Dolphin N2 were perfectly placed to showcase their technology amongst other hydrogen leaders.

Throughout the day the Dolphin N2 engine gained a great deal of interest and valuable industry connections were made during the event. Many of the attendees were curious about the transition from diesel engine to hydrogen and were impressed by the extensive body of work surrounding the development of the recuperated split cycle hydrogen engine.

September – Cenex LCV and CAM.

In September Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) and Connected Automated Mobility (CAM) becomes a pivotal event in the transport sector calendar. LCV brings together some of the incredible innovators supporting the transition to reduce emissions and strive for net zero in the transport sector.

The event always draws many attendees from all backgrounds and this year was no exception. From manufacturers and developers to Universities and R&D and from Government representation to policy makers, the event is central to how the transport sector can evolve toward and beyond net zero.

The Dolphin N2 stand is always dominated by the recuperated split-cycle engine demonstrator and was a great draw for delegates to the show.

Only twenty-four hours before LCV, Dolphin N2 announced that they had been successful in their application to receive funding and support through the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator 2 (ARMD2) competition.

The projects will undertake the development of technologies for vehicles including:

  • electric first responder motorcycles for the emergency services,
  • EV delivery vans,
  • fuel cell technology,
  • electric drives and motors,
  • and tractors and composite materials.

The reaction to this news was extremely positive with many people congratulating the Dolphin N2 team and a high level of expectation was generated by this news. https://www.apcuk.co.uk/green-flag-for-fast-start-vehicle-demonstrators/

Throughout the two days, many attendees and senior delegates made their way to the Dolphin N2 stand to engage with the team and discuss the developments of the Dolphin N2 technology. Conversations held between Simon Brewster – CEO, Nick Owen – Technical Director and Tim Burnhope – Head of Innovation at JCB and Charles Stevenson – General Manager at JCB London proved to be very positive, especially as both companies are working in hydrogen developments.

Further discussions were held between the Dolphin N2 team and senior delegates from CNH industrial and Bennamann ltd, as one of the many applications the Dolphin N2 engine technology can be utilised in is the agriculture sector.

On day two of LCV senior delegates from FPT Industrial (Dolphin N2’s parent company) Ian Constance – CEO of the Advanced Propulsion Centre, David Greenwood – CEO WMG High Value Manufacturing and John Kell MBE – Principal Specialist and Account Manager (Automotive Sector Team) at the Department of Business and Trade were all present and in discussion with Simon Brewster, Nick Owen and other members of the Dolphin N2 team.

November – Hydrogen Industry Leaders: Enhancing the Hydrogen Economy.

The November Hydrogen Industry Leaders (HIL) event based in Glasgow highlighted how Scotland has become one of the most pioneering places for hydrogen production and uptake. Nick Owen – Technical Director of Dolphin N2 – attended the event as a ‘Thought Leader’ and was impressed by the way Scotland has embraced a hydrogen economy as a key player in the decarbonisation of their transport and energy systems.

Throughout 2023 these industry events have given the growing hydrogen economy much-needed exposure. Despite the hydrogen economy being in its infancy, companies such as Dolphin N2 are giving hydrogen the recognition it requires to be embraced by Government, policy makers, Academia, and industry alike.

However, it is also recognised that the hydrogen economy needs the relevant input from Government level to be able to grow and expand and the only way to achieve this is through investigation and collaboration.

Referring to Nick Owen’s impressions of the Scottish hydrogen economy, the Scottish Action Plan does recognise the importance of hydrogen and also recognises how a collaborative approach across industry and policy makers alike is vital for its success.

“It is clear that hydrogen represents a pivotal opportunity for both decarbonisation and the economy and is a key driver in our just transition. Scotland has the resources, the people, and the ambition to realise the benefits of becoming a leading hydrogen nation. This is our ambition – but government cannot achieve it alone. Joint action will be required by the Scottish Government, UK Government and businesses working together to realise our hydrogen future.” (1)

Hydrogen. The most abundant element in the universe. Is the hydrogen economy still in its infancy? Yes. Will there need to be investment and collaboration to incorporate hydrogen into global industry? This is essential. Will hydrogen play a key part in the decarbonisation of transport systems? Yes. With the right research and development, investment and a collaborative approach hydrogen can become a game changing fuel for the future of transport, industry, and energy.

Dolphin N2 are already planning forward, and you can find out more about their game changing approaches at the Future Propulsion Conference 28th-29th February 2024 at the National Motorcycle Museum.

Written by Katy Mason for and on behalf of Dolphin N2.

  1. https://www.gov.scot/publications/hydrogen-action-plan/pages/2/